Great Movies Starring Older Adults

Judi-DenchRemember the year Jack Palance at age 73, accepted the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his character in the movie City Slickers? In his acceptance speech he lamented how movie producers were inclined to cast younger actors and make them look old rather than ‘risk’ using an older actor. “Ah, but they forget, they forget to ask, and you go out there and you do all these things, like for instance…” said Palance, as he moved away from the microphone, dropped to the floor and began doing one-handed push-ups on stage.

That was 1992 and Jack Palance was the only actor over 60 years of age that starred in a movie nominated for an academy award that year. Are Hollywood producers still wary about casting older actors in 2014? More importantly, do older adults have a major role to play in today’s movies? You be the judge.

Best Picture
Included among this year’s nominees for Best Picture are Philomena starring 79-year-old actress Judi Dench and Nebraska starring actor Bruce Dern, age 77.

Best Actor & Actress
Bruce Dern is nominated for his portrayal of “an aging, booze-addled father who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize”.
Nominated actress Judi Dench stars in a “story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent”.
Actress Meryl Streep, age 64, nominated for her role in Osage County as a strong-willed woman suffering from mouth cancer and addicted to narcotics.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
June Squib, age 84, nominated for her role in Nebraska.

We all know that a movie doesn’t need an Oscar nomination to be good (although some of the movies listed below received one). Here is a list of wonderful movies starring older adults with descriptions from the Internet Movie Data Base:

  1. Amour – Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested.
  2. Away From Her – A man (Gordon Pinset) coping with the institutionalization of his wife (Julie Christie) because of Alzheimer’s disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, Aubrey, a wheelchair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.
  3. Strangers in Good Company – A busload of women become stranded in an isolated part of the Canadian countryside. As they await rescue, they reflect on their lives through a mostly ad-libbed script.
  4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
  5. Young@Heart – A documentary on a chorus of older adults from Massachusetts who cover songs by Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Sonic Youth, and other unexpected musicians.
  6. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont – All but abandoned by her family in a London retirement hotel, an elderly woman strikes up a curious friendship with a young writer.
  7. Redwood Highway – Living in a comfortable retirement community in Southern Oregon, estranged from her family, unsatisfied with her surroundings, and generally not happy about life, Marie decides to journey 80 miles on foot to the coast of Oregon to see the ocean for the first time in 45 years and attend her granddaughter’s wedding as an unexpected guest.

Grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy this year’s Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2nd.



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